Seventies Nostalgia

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dreas Reyneke - body conditioning teacher supreme.

In the late Seventies, there was only one place to go to if you wanted your physique sculptured into perfection, and that was Dreas Reyneke’s body conditioning studio. He used to have tiny premises in Notting Hill Gate with a few Pilates machines crammed in. The changing facilities used to be barbaric. There were no showers, nothing fancy like that. His rich and famous clients had to change in a little room adjoined to the studio.

I had been going to Dreas since the early Seventies before he started his own studio. Everyone wanted to go to the Pilates maestro, but because his studio was so small there was only enough room for four people (maximum) at a time. Dreas used to look after all the Royal Ballet dancers: the company's principle dancers, like the legendary Anthony Dowell or Lynn Seymour were wheeled in on a regular basis, virtually crippled from their arduous daily lives of a harsh ballet regime. After a session or two with Dreas, they were miraculously patched up. Dreas Reyneke was a magician when it came to working out specific postures for each individual client.

Everyone who went to Dreas was rich and famous and because his studio was so successful, he had a long waiting list. I used to be a gossip columnist in the late Seventies, but Dreas trusted me never to write bitchy things about his clients. My slot was every Thursday at 9 a.m. When Bianca Jagger was in London, she was regularly in my session. She used to wear plastic bags over her thighs in order to lose weight, not that I could see where she wanted to lose excess fat. She was tiny. Joan Collins who had an incredible figure was unrecognisable without her wig, and at one time Rod and Alana Stewart (his then wife) were in my slot.

One morning, they arrived outside the studio without makeup on. Both looked dishevelled, as one usually does before going to work out at the crack of dawn. Unfortunately for their public image, someone had tipped off the BBC about them going to Dreas. A film crew was waiting outside his studio. Rod and Alana didn't seem too thrilled at being filmed (for a topical news programme) not looking their best.

Dreas forbid us to chat, but sometimes when he wasn’t being strict, we got away with it.

‘You want to come and see my Matisse?’ an Amerian woman once asked me when we were both upside down our respective mats.

‘Yes,’ I answered softly so that Dreas wouldn’t hear and tell me off.

Usually, I holed up ithe local fish and chip restaurant after my session with Dreas, but this time I made an exception and after my class, went to this woman’s flat in Knightsbridge to ogle her priceless painting.

My body had never been better when I went to Dreas, but after I became obsessed with tennis, like an idiot I stopped going to him, I just didn’t have the time. By then, rich socialites had become clients. One woman flung her fur coat on one of the Pilates machines and commenced to do her excercises on top of them, until Dreas had to politely advise her to hang her coat up in the changing room.

I miss Dreas and would adore to go back to him. He’s the best, but I very much doubt he would be able to fit me into my old Thursday morning slot any more. Even if he could, I doubt if I could afford him now. He's more popular then ever.

Copyright: Farnces Lynn, 2007

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